Commuting Responsibly

Whoever uses the Internet is by default involved in information systems and technology. You may not realize it, but it is automatic—part of the process so to speak. Most of us would shrivel up and die if our brains weren’t stimulated by what we find on the Web. We would also fall behind others in the self-education department. Let me use myself as an example. I feel woefully ignorant of the issues surrounding global warming and yet it is a number one problem in the world.  I depend on articles written by the press and experts to keep me informed. Like many people, I am concerned and fear the consequences in my lifetime. According to what I read, the scenario won’t be pretty. We must take action now to stave off the impending peril.

One thing we can all do is to buy an electric car and stop gas-propelled vehicle pollution. If half of us took this advice, it would make an enormous difference. The statistics could change overnight giving us all some much-needed relief. There is one huge drawback, which is of course the price. These green cars aren’t cheap. If you are used to a Mercedes then maybe you can easily switch. But if you are the proud owner of an economy car, you cannot. Here is what I must do. I will start riding my bike to work at least a few times a week. As a responsible commuter, I will do my part in the preservation of the precious ozone.

Good commuter bikes are easy to find at all price points from On Road and Mountain. You can get a used one or share it with a friend. Where there is a will, there is a way. Take the Vilano Hybrid City Bike at $400 on sale for $175. Now here’s a bargain. You get speedy 700c wheels with 700c x 35c tires. Handling is easy and comfortable, making this an ideal choice for the price. You can find your own bike since we all have different preferences but I personally like the sturdy steel frame with water bottle mounts. I also appreciate the spring-loaded rear rack and matching fenders laden with practical splash guards. Commuters and weekend adventurers will be thrilled. People like me commute as do students and professors. It is so cool. There you are upright on your machine with classic-looking hybrid/cruiser handlebars. I relish the matching suspension saddle and stylish grips. I carry stuff with me to work so I must have the rear rack for my “cargo.”

If you want specs, you have them on the Vilano website. They enumerate the special features for you loud and clear including the hi-ten steel frame, linear pull brakes, twist grip shifter (with seven speeds), the free platform pedals, locking kickstand, and of course what I mentioned about the wheels and tires. I like to know exactly what I am getting for my money. The Internet never fails to supply every detail.

The Development of Information Systems

All of the new companies and businesses that were forming during the post-war period required complex information systems. Many of the early computers from IBM were little more than very large and very accurate adding machines. The ‘B’ in ‘IBM’ is for ‘business.’ These machines were created to help businesses run more smoothly and accurately. The people who worked to sell business machines during their early days were benefiting from the new surplus of talented salesmen.

The machines that were produced during this time period were enormous and only had so many applications. Few people from this time period could have predicted personal computers or anything of the kind. Still though, they set the stage for the personal computers that would arrive on the scene during the 1980s, and which would come to dominate the culture of the world by the 1990s.

Information systems themselves weren’t commonly used in businesses until around the middle of the 1960s. They were becoming more popular throughout the 1950s, but the 1950s was really where everything got started. It was more of a launching point for the success that would follow. Once the 1960s was well underway, the businesses that weren’t using information systems were starting to get left behind. Many businesses could not yet afford them, however. Even though business owners saw the advantages of getting complex information systems, they were prohibitively expensive through the 1950s and the early and mid-1960s.

The TELEX machine made all the difference in terms of the development of modern information systems. Business-people operating at different points within a given organization were capable of communicating much more efficiently and effectively than ever before, which helps them save money each and every time and made all the difference in terms of their long-term development. Machines like TELEX also helped set a new standard throughout the industry.

Accountants and their departments made use of information systems first, at least within businesses. Information systems were largely their domain. The role of information systems began to expand significantly as the technology-involved came down in price. A good portion of the history of technological development has proceeded along similar trajectories at some point or another.

The prototypes of most technological systems are very expensive. They are often so expensive that only the wealthiest organizations can ever hope to own them. These organizations will become successful as a result of these new technologies. Research and development into that technology continues, since the success of the prototypes has generated interest, and it may have directly increased the funding involved. The researchers make several important discoveries, and they are able to improve upon the original concepts involved. They release new lines of products, which are available for a comparatively low amount of money. Now, smaller businesses and wealthy individuals are able to afford them.

Research and development continues at that point. The technologies that are under development soon become part of mainstream culture in a direct or an indirect fashion. The general public has more interest in those technologies. Before long, they fall into the hands of the general public. Decades of research and development have made that possible. As more and more people become interested in the products, they are able to come down in price as a result of the economies of scale. Once more members of the general public become interested in them, the technologies come down in price even further and they more or less become part of the social fabric.

The trajectory of technological development produces plenty of interesting ironies that often only reveal themselves retrospectively. For one thing, the prototype of a piece of cutting edge technology is often the most unimpressive item in the entire lineage, and yet it is often the most expensive item of all. It certainly didn’t look unimpressive when it was made, or it would not have inspired an entire technological lineage, of sorts. It’s also ironic that the rich are the early adopters who more or less end up paying more for items that are going to look unimpressive by the time everyone’s even aware of them. If they had waited a decade or so, they’d be paying less for better items. However, wealthy early adopters are often part of the process, and the irony only serves to add a layer of intrigue to the situation.

The Dawn of Information Systems

Information systems have transformed the world in a way that was very difficult to imagine previously. Information really is everything, and information systems have been better at organizing, compiling, and transferring information than anything that humanity had previously.

Information systems the way we know them today are a product of World War Two directly or indirectly. The world’s economy, in so much as there was a world economy at the time, was at a standstill during the Great Depression, and the technological development of the 1930s was nothing compared to the technological development that would follow throughout the duration of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.

Throughout the early and mid-1940s, the desperation to win the war at all costs led to tremendous technological developments, which automatically led to more advanced information systems compared to what came before for many nations. Collectively, the individuals that focused on the more technical aspects of warfare formed the field of Operations Research. Operations Research was instrumental in the victories behind World War Two, and it was also directly and indirectly responsible for some of the other victories after the war was completed.

The people who worked in Operations Research certainly got some of the most intense training that anyone could have, given the circumstances. They were almost some of the most technically skilled people available at the time. Of course, when the war mercifully came to a close, these individuals needed somewhere to go when their government work was finished. While some people were directionless when World War Two ended, the people that worked in Operations Research were extremely talented, brilliant people who were contributing genuinely new skills to the workforce.

The former members of Operations Research entered the burgeoning business and industrial sectors of the post-war society. While many of them managed to find new niches for themselves, they also helped create new niches for others. The United States and other nations were transitioning to service economies at that point. Many people were working in sales and advertising in the post-war world. The ability to produce products on a level that had never been experienced previously was also partly a side effect of the war. The Industrial Revolution began long before this point, but the effects of World War Two brought it to a new stage.

Information Systems That People Use Every Day

There was a time when only a select group of people ever used the Internet. Before then, many people were not even aware of the Internet. The complicated information systems that are at play in modern society were once the stuff of science fiction fantasy. Today, these sorts of highly technical information systems are treated as mundane facts of life. Many people take them for granted to such an extent that the temporary loss of Internet access is treated as a problem that a city must address at once. Information systems dominate modern life, whether we’re fully aware of them or not.

Businesses will use a wide variety of information systems that are specific to their own operations. All businesses will have transaction processing systems of some variety or another. When customers select an order from a business, those are inputs into a broader transaction processing system. Some businesses use better software than others in order to accomplish these sorts of operations, but the definition of a transaction processing system is broad.

However, countless people all over the globe use the massive information processing systems known as social media networks. Many different operations are going on all the time in a massive social media network. As people log in, the number of people that are logged into the system changes in a way that can be demonstrated technically. As people create new accounts, that affects the number of accounts that are registered. Naturally, the large number of connections that people build throughout their personal social media landscapes is also going to change the landscape of the entire network. Social media networks are vast, and they will only become broader with time.

Information Systems Defined

The exact definition of information systems is going to vary depending upon the speaker or the writer. A science historian will probably give a different definition than a computer programmer or a systems analyst. However, both parties are going to recognize the tremendous impact that information systems have had on the world.

Information systems could be generally defined as an operation’s data and communication technology. However, the Internet itself is an information system, and it’s an information system that spans the entire world. Our increasingly global society could be regarded as an operation in its own right, especially since an increasing number of people are participating in the industrial aspects of modern society. The Internet is an information system that seems to also bring other information systems together, as if it were a massive, overarching information system operating on a meta level.

Information systems will have inputs, processing, and outputs. The inputs and outputs could be almost anything, and the processing could be multifaceted. However, even the simplest information systems will have these components at least. While many of the information systems that people think of today are extremely complicated, plenty of them can actually be relatively straightforward. Customer relationship management systems are information systems, and they’re largely about keeping records of the relevant activities of specific customers.

Businesses will have information systems like customer relationship management systems, as well as a whole host of other information systems. Some people might regard these types of information systems as simple facets of much larger information systems, but the categorization sometimes becomes a matter of semantics. Still though, it should be noted that even the most simple businesses will use several information systems in order to manage all of their organizational and managerial matters.

People aren’t going to be surprised that software companies are little more than series of interlocking information systems, at least at one level. However, even restaurants and clothing stores are going to run on information and information systems. The Information Age isn’t just defined by the fact that so many people use the Internet today and mass communication networks. The fact that the world runs through information systems helps to truly define our age.